Wearables are Changing the Full Stack of the IoT

By Adam Lotia

Wearables are one of the big trends this year in the IoT space with everyone jumping in the game. We’re only just ending the first quarter, but every major brand has already shipped at least one new wearable or their first wearable.

In Dallas, I recently ventured out to the first Tech Wildcatters Wearable Wednesday event, where Microsoft spoke about their wearable, the Microsoft Band. In my opinion  this is one  of the better ones on the market right now. Currently, in the consumer space, there are essentially two camps of wearables: those that want to replace a watch and add functionality and those that start from the health perspective. Yes, there are those who attempt to do both. I’d say that the Microsoft Band is probably one of the few wearables that has been designed correctly from the ground up.

Microsoft’s head of development for the Band, Amish Patel’s approach takes into account how the IoT has a new definition of full stack development. With software, you just had to think of full stack as design, front-end functionality and a back end to hold everything together. With wearable tech, and more so with the IoT, your thoughts have to be a little more advanced. You’re no longer just tied to software, you’re tied to many more components with hardware where the full stack becomes akin to managing an ecosystem.

Take something as simple as a clasp and how you’re attaching it to the human wrist. You now have to come up with a manner that will hold not just the device to the wrist but close enough for the sensors it will support to do their job. Microsoft had to come up with a new clasp that could adjust to their goal of holding the Microsoft Band close enough to collect biometric data. The clasp had to hold the device for a new optical sensor that was purpose-built using lessons from other hardware that Microsoft has.

The sensors tied in are another part of the full stack for wearable development. Orchestration of the sensors, displays, connectivity, and batteries is a new layer of the stack. This layer is heavily dependent on software and finding the right software person to understand each piece and tie them together.

The wearable space is changing the landscape of the full stack. Now we just have to see where this new stack takes us and, like software developers, we will start to see new talent emerge and become valuable resources to understand each piece.